Examples of best practice
Revival of meadow orchards
Meadow orchards have an important role in the agricultural and nature protection sense.
Meadow orchards in the past
They were grown because they provided food for survival of farm people. They were planted on agricultural land of lesser quality, on steep slopes, meadows, pastures and in the vicinity of homesteads. More frequently, orchards were preserved in hilly areas where farmers were connected with rural tradition for a longer time and dependent on self-sufficiency in food. Farmers grafted different varieties on seedlings, which were chosen according to the time of maturity and with a view to their use. In the past, meadow orchards had a significant economic role because farmers produced large quantities of fruit with extensive supply of fruit trees, which was then sold or used primarily for self-sufficiency and processing into products such as: dried fruit, juice, fruit wine, brandy and other fruit products.
Significance of meadow orchards with a view to nature protection and the landscape
From the point of view of nature conservation, meadow orchards are a good example of nature-friendly or sustainable farming. At the same time, they also represent an important aesthetic category in the area with their characteristic appearance, and contribute to preserving the typical appearance of the landscape. Many animals and plants are directly related to this area, therefore they are losing their only living areas with this habitat disappearing. High biodiversity is the reason for the inclusion of certain areas among important nature protection areas of Natura 2000 in Europe, which also includes meadow orchards very well represented in the Kozjansko park.
Revival of meadow orchards
A number of studies, as well as the national and international projects, prove that it is extremely important to preserve meadow orchard habitats in the Kozjansko park.
In 1999, a basis was largely made for the upgrade of the other activities to the present day (from prunes for revival to the Kozjansko Apple Festival) by approaching the project Revival of meadow orchards and fruit gardens in Slovenia.
With the project within the framework of the Interreg IIIA (Slovenia-Hungary-Croatia) entitled High Trunk Meadow Orchards as a Preservation Element of Biotic Diversity and Aesthetic Value of the Landscape, we gained valuable agricultural lands to establish a collection orchard and a new location for the nursery garden in addition to numerous activities.
In the framework of the IPA project (Cross-border cooperation Slovenia-Croatia 2008–2013) entitled From the Eurasian Wryneck to Fruit Juice, we adopted a long-term strategy for the sustainable management of meadow orchards, gained a fruit throne and the Carjevič title of the year, and improved technical equipment for the preservation of meadow orchards, and a fruit processing plant. Fruit grown in the meadow orchards are placed in the category of organic food, which is becoming an increasingly interesting market commodity day by day, and a new opportunity for environmentally aware growers. In autumn, we help owners who do not have the appropriate equipment and technical knowledge to process their fruit in fruit juice using our fruit processing plant.
With the project Opportunities in Traditional Orchards of the Posavje Region (Leader), we have set up educational sites and carried out trainings for fruit masters, permaculture planners and fruit producers.
The results of the projects are a number of new and renewed meadow orchards, and owners aware of the importance of such orchards for the Natura 2000 area and the entire protected area of the Kozjansko park.
Conservation of dry grasslands at Vetrnik and Oslica
Dry grasslands in the mountainous areas of the park – among the richest habitats in Europe with a view to varieties – have been compromised due to overgrowing, intensive farming, excessive cattle grazing. With the project Life Nature “Conservation and Management of High Dry Grasslands on the Vetrnik and Oslica mountains” we managed to prevent their disappearance.
Mapping of pastures, establishing a network of owners, renaturalization, ensuring financial compensation for the owners, a management plan, involving owners in agricultural and environmental programmes, the establishment of constant monitoring, setting up of an educational trail named Meadow, preparing and issuing leaflets and a guide – all these were the project activities which have helped identify the environmental value of the dry grasslands and their preservation.
Setting up pilgrimage routes in connection with the popularization of nature protection and the promotion of natuaral values
Three large projects have led to the fact that the Kozjansko park has become an important player regarding the establishment of pilgrimage routes, and in this regard has helped to popularize the protection of nature and natural values.
The project Emma’s Pilgrimage Route helped connect towns in the regions of Carinthia, Styria, Lower Carniola and Upper Carniola that are connected to the life and work of St. Emma and is tied to the route with the same name in Austria (Hemma Pilgerweg). On Emma’s name day, the Kozjansko park annually organizes a hike along a part of Emma’s Pilgrimage Route.
With the project Mary’s Pilgrimage Route we have connected the offer of pilgrimage centres and other towns on the way from Pomurje to the Kozjansko park on the Slovenian side and Varaždin and the Krapina-Zagorje area in Croatia.
The Pilgrimage Europe SI-AT project establishes a broad network of pilgrimage routes and centres over the major part of Slovenia and the whole area of Austrian Styria with the intention of joint promotion and marketing.
Establishment of a trial biological treatment plant
We treat nature with nature. The dispersed settlement in the park makes it very difficult to clean the municipal water from individual households. Biological treatment plants are simple, affordable, effective and coincide with the principles of nature protection. Within the framework of the 1st public appeal of the LAG of the Kozjansko and Obsotelje regions, we acquired a part of resources necessary to establish a trial treatment plant at the location of an organic farmer Jurij Krivc in Poklek, who serves as an example of solving the problem of municipal sewage cleaning.
Another sample intended for a larger number of users is a biological treatment plant under the administration of the Kozjansko park in Podsreda (co-financed from the Si.Voda Fund) Upon the implementation of the biological treatment plant a short film (20min) was filmed which shows the manufacturing phases and processes. The film can be seen at the Kozjansko park administration office in Podsreda.
The complexity of the ecoremediations represents more than a suitable approach to the effective and sustainable protection of the environment, and we will certainly endeavour to implement such approaches in the future.